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4-H, Master Gardeners, and EFNEP Collaborate on School Project

The Issue

Utilizing school gardens is one of the most positive hands-on opportunities for youth to experience gardening while learning healthy eating habits. Children who are hungry or poorly nourished do less well in school, both academically and behaviorally. Our current crisis in the rising rates of obesity and related diseases among children is now well known. The proliferation of unhealthy fast foods and the limited intake by children of fresh fruits and vegetables all contribute to this situation. As concern rises, policy makers and teachers in the classroom are searching for ways to improve the health and well being of their students. Moreover, because eating habits and preferences are established early, and although home influences are strong, school is a valuable venue for teaching good nutrition, balanced diets and proper serving amounts. The most effective way to increase children's intake of fruits and vegetables and encourage lifelong healthful eating habits is to teach them about healthy choices and nutrition concepts in the elementary years (Kirby, 1995). Studies show that if established before 6th grade, positive habits are more likely to persist into adulthood.

What Has ANR Done?

The San Bernardino 4-H Youth Development Program, Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), and the Master Gardeners Program, all a part of UCCE has joined in collaboration with the Norton Space and Aeronautics Academy (NSAA) in San Bernardino. UCCE have begun to provide resources and hands-on activities in the area of gardening to children ages kindergarten through 4th grade. Recently, employees and volunteers planted vegetables and fruit plants in the NSAA school garden. In addition, beginning in the fall of 2010, children at the NSAA charter school will begin the 4-H garden project utilizing the curriculum titled Gardening: See them Sprout and Gardening: Let’s get Growing will teach youth involved in the 4-H after school program about garden planning, planting, garden care, harvesting, storage and careers.

The Payoff

Collaboration increases fruit and vegetable awareness

NSAA children have begun to learn where vegetables and fruits come from. This past May, several students helped harvest carrots and other vegetables. While participating in this activity, youth were very eager to wash the carrots and taste them; many for the first time!


Supporting Unit: San Bernardino County

Cynthia Barnett, San Bernardino County 4-H Youth Development Advisor 909.387.2193

Janet Hartin, San Bernardino County Horticulturist Advisor 909.387.2166

Clara Wilshire, San Bernardino County EFNEP Program Manager 909.387.2188